The Super 4 stage of the Asia Cup begins on Saturday and it does so with the same fixture which opened the tournament a week ago as Sri Lanka take on Afghanistan, with their meeting this time coming in Sharjah.
Afghanistan took Sri Lanka to the absolute cleaners in that match last week and will be looking for another victory to get their main part of the tournament underway. Sri Lanka will be wanting revenge in a big way here.
After taking the level of beating they did by Afghanistan in their opening match of the tournament, Sri Lanka deserve a lot of credit for bouncing back to win what was a knockout game for them in their second one against Bangladesh. They had to call upon all their batting resources in that victory but you sense if they are going to have a chance to win this tournament then their bowling is going to have to help them out at some point.
The pitches should help with that but then the flip side of that is as they tired and get even more turgid than they currently are that will impact their batting who like to be on the front foot and aggressive. The longer this tournament goes on the harder it is going to be to find the boundary and that just won’t suit Sri Lanka. They are a work in progress under Chris Silverwood and it will be interesting to see if he can adjust their game for this test.
Afghanistan probably wouldn’t have believed the quality of start they have had to the tournament. They have won both of their matches and although they were tested a little more by Bangladesh in their second game, they still won that with a bit to spare. You would imagine the longer the tournament goes on in these conditions the more effective their bowling attack is going to be which will give them a lot of confidence from here on in.
The test for Afghanistan is whether they can continue to bat sensibly in the conditions. In that win over Bangladesh last time out Afghanistan were a little slower at the top of the order but importantly they were able to keep wickets in hand and that was crucial as when it came to the time they needed to put the foot down they had plenty of resources to help them over the line. A win here would set Afghanistan up nicely.
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Sri Lanka aren’t really blessed with options if they wanted to make changes to their side for this match but given the performance they put in last time out it is unlikely they would want to change too much anyway.
Afghanistan are expected to stick with the side which beat Bangladesh last time out. Their spinners are serving them well and their batters at the top of the order look in good nick so there is no reason to fix what isn’t broken.
Afghanistan didn’t just beat Sri Lanka in their opening game, they absolutely battered them and they did it with Rashid Khan not even taking a wicket so there might even be a lot more to come in this matchup for the Afghan outfit. Sri Lanka bounced back nicely to beat Bangladesh but there were more concerns than convincing things about that victory and I suspect they might come up short in this one. Whatever happens here I think it is fair to say Afghanistan are overpriced.
I think the conditions in Sharjah will suit Afghanistan nicely. They can effectively bowl 16 overs of spin which we have seen is having a maximum impact on this ground but if the wicket does somehow play better then they have the batters to put the ball out of the park. The margin of victory between these two last time was just too big to ignore the odds against quote on the underdogs to come out on top here.
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